|Compiled by Toby
Barrett – (Updated
This list is intended
to be a generalized listing of some of the best sources on the topic—sort of a “go to” pool of information
on the subject for researchers, beginners, and modelers. Some works are
quite general in nature with others being the epitome of detail. This
is not, by any means, an exhaustive list of titles on the subject. There
are gaps in subject matter and omissions of many important works. Nor
is it a formal bibliography in a sense as I have left off the publishers
in many cases. I have compiled this list over the years and am constantly
adding to it and updating it. Above all, I would stress looking at the
individual bibliographies within each volume itself for more gems to
search for….so often bibliographies within books are overlooked
for additional materials on a subject.
The opinion and notes expressed on each item are my own. The availability
code assignment is also my own and subject to change for each work due
to possible to re-editing and/or reprinting of certain works.
The chance success in acquiring any particular volume long out-of-print
is based on several factors: the frequency and persistence of the search,
the type of agent used in any search, the area of a search, and luck
all determine the results when looking for any book or volume of work.
Availability Code - Number notations after each title represent degree
of difficulty in finding a copy.
1=Easy, new books or still in print. Or reprints are readily available.
2=Item has been out for a while, and perhaps out of print. Have a bookstore
look it up for availability and special order if possible.
of print - Try a book finder. Amazon.com has used volumes listed
when available from other book dealers.
4=Most difficult-very rare or long out of print. Dust off the wallet
and be patient.
Arms and Equipment of the Civil War (3)
Jack Coggins (1962 with reprints)
Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War (3)
Everything one needs to know about ACW artillery, ammunition, carriages,
mortars, etc. Lot of naval stuff. The author is a very good writer and
adds a lot of interesting passages and stories one can get lost in. I
think this is a must-have book if you can get one.
Battles & Leaders of the Civil War
Four-volume set of both naval and army operations. There was a condensed
one-volume work out on this years ago, but I recommend the four-volume
Blockade Runners of the Confederacy
Hamilton Cochran (1958)
There are many works out about this subject, but I think this is one
of the best. It is a very good read compared to most others and tells
the story of the dangers and the overall business of blockade running.
But it is most lacking in ship plans and data.
1860 – 1950 (3 possibly a 4 in the
Dr. Oscar Parkes (1957)
Excellent work; I go to it often. Very valuable resource for side elevations,
deck layouts and arrangements, and ship data. Many photos as well.
Capital Navy: The Men, ships and operations of the James River Squadron
John M. Coski (1996)
Some very good info and some very nice drawings. (Except I do have reservations
about the CSS Texas drawing and its casement layout.)
Civil War Ironclads (4)
Robert Macbride (1962)
Good line drawings, but some data and history is in error.
Civil War Naval Chronology 1861-1865 (3)
U.S. Naval History Division (1971)
Complements of the US Government Printing Office Excellent all-around
information—try to get one. Good diagrams, photos, and drawings.
Thanks David. I think this is a must-have book if you can get one.
War Navies 1855-1883 (1 – possibly a 2)
Paul Silverstone (2001)
An excellent work with ship data, histories, and photos. Plenty of photos,
but no diagrams or deck plans, however. Silverstone has an earlier and
similar work on this topic and this volume is probably a re-editing of
The Confederate Steam Navy 1861-1865 (1)
Donald Canney (2015) An excellent work with ship data, histories, and photos.
Warships and Naval Battles of the Civil War (4)
Tony Gibbons (1989)
Nice work with color computer generated pictures mostly taken from photographs
and prints. There are some errors on data and some ship renderings. I
think this is a must-have book if you can get one.
The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships (4)
Tony Gibbons (1983)
One of my favorite books in my naval library. Very similar in layout
to the above title by Gibbons and covers the same ACW. Just looking through
it from time-to-time is a joy and an inspiration on all navies 1860 to
The Confederate Navy, a Pictorial History (3)
Philip Van Doren Stern (1962)
Done in hardback, but a large sized paperback edition may be easier to
find. A lot of good drawings, woodcuts from the period, photos, and diagrams
of vessels and such. I think this is a must-have book if you can get one.
Confederate Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization, 1861-65
(1 – fast
becoming a 2)
Dr. William Still (1997)
Parallel work to the Lincoln’s Navy title listed below.
Conway's All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1860-1905 (2)
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
Naval History Division (printed by the US Government Printing Office—also
available on line, see the links section on this web site.)
Multi-volume work broken down by alphabetical listing of vessels such
as A-B or C-F, for example. The series was originally printed over the
span of several years. My volume (No. II) was first printed in 1963 with
several reprints thereafter. (Note: this volume also contains a special
appendix on Confederate vessels and is an invaluable source on that subject.)
Early American Steamers - 6 Volumes (4)
Erik Heyl (Copyright 1967) - Excellent study and compilation presenting records, histories and valuable side drawings of of pre-1870 American steam vessels of US and/or Canadian registry. A goldmine of information on US naval "Purchased" vessels, reconfigured vessels used by both sides as armed gunboats, and packets, cargo and passenger vessels used as blockaders, blockade runners and transports. Many of these vessels covered served on both sides as naval vessels and/or for 'leased' purposes transporting government supplies, troops, ordnance etc.
The History of the American Sailing Navy: The ships and Their Development
(3, probably a 4)
Howard I. Chapelle
Many ACW union ships that carried sail.
Infernal Machines: The Story of Confederate Submarine and Mine Warfare
Milton F. Perry (1965).
A very unglamorous and most unchivalrous aspect of naval warfare, but
an important and necessary topic to cover. Many forget that torpedoes
and mines claimed more victims, both human and ships, during the civil
war than any other type of action or weapon.
The Fighting Ship of the Royal Navy, 897-1984
E. H. H. Archibald (1984)
Originally, this volume was a two-volume work broken up into wooden and
metal ships more than 20 years before the printing of this one volume
work which is what I have. Some very good stuff on the British navy of
the period—most useful for European Transition ships. Some color
diagrams of inside vessels, but its best use is for data and side elevation
views of vessels—no useful deck plans, however.
History of the Confederate States Navy (2)
J. Thomas Scharf
Reprint of an old work. Good history and reading, crude drawings.
Iron Afloat: The story of the Confederate Armorclads
William N. Still Jr. (1971 with many reprints)
A very good work and probably one of the classics on the subject.
of the best things I like about Mr. Still’s work in this
volume and in others is that he just gives you what is known or available
a particular item and tries to refrain from guesswork or speculation.
I think this is a must-have book if you can get one.
Navy: The ships, Men and Organization, 1861-65 (1 – fast
becoming a 2)
Donald Canney (1998)
The title says it all. If you can’t find Mr. Canney’s two-volume
work on the Steam Navy (described above), try to get this work as it
has many photos, diagrams, and ship plans culled from the archives.
Warfare: Courage and Combat on the Water (2 – probably
more a 3)
John C. Wideman (1997)
This is one volume in a series called the Civil War Chronicles and is
concentrated on the naval story. I found it on a book bargain table and
it is a gem. Although it is a general overview of the naval action, it’s
main value is the clarity of the detail found in the photographs and
the inclusion of art prints and paintings from such notable artists as
William McGrath, Don Troiani, and Tom freeman. I think this is a must-have
book if you can get one.
The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War
Major George B. Davis (Reprinted in 1978 by Arno Press)
This is the official atlas originally printed by the Government Printing
Office in 1891-1895 to accompany the Official Records of the Union and
Confederate Armies. It is a huge volume in both size and thickness. I
have returned to use it on numerous occasions and it is an invaluable
source on general maps of areas made during, or soon after, the actual
war. It also contains many maps and diagrams of such things as harbors,
obstructions, channel depths, forts and redans (including valuable side
elevations of both), widths of harbors and rivers—to name a few
key topics. I think this is a must-have book if you can get one.
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the
This work is also available on CD-ROM from many dealers.
Also must list here:
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies in the War of the
Same note on CD-ROM availability. There were many vessels—especially
in the early war years—and forts manned by the US Army.
Ordnance Manual 1863
A Morningside House 1995 reprint. Actually this is a twofer deal as this
volume is the Confederate version and a direct reprint of the US Ordnance
Manual of 1861. Excellent source for notes on siege carriages, implements,
munitions, paints, etc. of the period. Some valuable diagram plates
in the back.
The Old Steam Navy, Vols. I and II
Donald Canney (1990)
Published by Naval Institute Press and written solely on the Union navy.
Well recommended. Mr. Canney has pulled a lot of drawings, photographs
and information from the National Archives and other government agencies.
Thanks to digital processing and good research, this combined work is
an invaluable source on plans, deck plans, photos and history on the
subject. I think this is a must-have series if you can get them.
Volume I (3) is on frigates, sloops, and gunboats (1815-1885)
Volume II (4 - and very highly priced when available) is on ironclads
(All types - ocean-going, harbor monitors, and river ironclads 1842-1885)
Author’s note: I met Mr. Canney at a Civil War Show in up state
Virginia years ago. At the time I was tending my dealers booth and he
approached to look over what I had. He introduced himself and said he
had just finished a work on the Union navy. I didn’t know who he
was at the time. I was polite, but in my mind I was saying “right—another
slicked overview of the subject”. At the same show I took a break
and found one of Mr. Canney’s volumes at a book dealer’s
booth. A couple of flips of pages and I immediately saw my mistake and
I snatched up the volume and immediately looked around the room for Mr.
Canney, but he was gone. I quickly found the second volume and I’d
like to meet Mr. Canney again sometime.
The Photographic History of the Civil War, 10 Volumes (3)
Francis Trevelyan Miller (1957)
Primarily the volume on the navies. Reprinted many times over the years;
sometimes these volumes can be found with two titles printed into one
Sailing Warships of the U.S. Navy (1)
Donald Canney (2001)
Well researched as most everything I’ve seen of Canney’s
works. Contains many sailing vessels of the Union navy. Same format as
his work in the Old Steam Navy series above whereby it has excellent
source materials gleaned from the National Archives and thanks to digital
processing. A lot of deck plans and photos.
in the Age of Sail (2, fast becoming a 3)
Excellent source on sails, rigging, history, ship handling and terminology.
Sailing men-of war 1600-1860 and good enough for sailing ships and auxiliary
steam ship rigs through the ACW. Well recommended.
Ships Versus Shore: Civil War Engagements Along Southern Shores and
This is a very neat book on where to find ACW naval information, sites,
and museums in every key state in the south today. Photos, drawings,
and driving directions.
Steel & Shellfire:
The Steam Warship 1815-1905 (2)
Edited by Robert Gardiner (1992)
One of Conway’s History of the Ship Series from the Naval Institute
The Siege of Charleston 1861-1865
E. Milby Burton (1970 with multi reprinting)
This book probably covers more and varied aspects of actual naval action
during the civil war – because of the very nature of the area – than
any other volume I have seen. It has the opening battle for Fort Sumter,
land actions, ship vs. ship confrontations, ship vs. fort actions, engineering
and ordnance stories, mine warfare, blockade running, bombardments, personalities,
and submarine warfare, to name a few.
The Civil War (2)
A multi-volume set in the Time-Life book series.
The Uniforms of the United States Navy (3 - probably a 4)
James C. Tily (1964)
Photographs, drawings, and written descriptions. Excellent work on this